Author Topic: Translations  (Read 244 times)

Wiggy

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Translations
« on: 13 Jul 2018, 06:07 »
I am currently playing a game with a woeful english translation. I am a native english speaker, but I am fluent in French (I used to translate), and I would never dare to translate from English to French - the idioms, the vernacular is reliant upon contempory usage and local custom. I could translate the other way with no qualms, because one can see what the author desired to convey, and convey that message to the players.

I'll give you a reducto ad absurdum example:
"Nous avons pris un cul-de-sac!" Google translate would say "We took the bottom of a bag", but a native English speaker would know that a cul-de-sac is entrenched in our language, and is a dead-end street. We turned into a dead-end.

I would like your community opinion about translation. My hypothesis is that it's better to get the end language translator to speak it from birth, and to have learned the second language later, rather than the reverse.

I realise it is very hard for people who don't speak english in this forum, and in adventure gaming in general. I think that anything we can do to facilitate communication must make it better. Now it's your turn, ideas?

Mandle

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Re: Translations
« Reply #1 on: 13 Jul 2018, 06:33 »
My hypothesis is that it's better to get the end language translator to speak it from birth, and to have learned the second language later, rather than the reverse.

Yes, this is the way professional translation is done all over the world. It's a pretty unbreakable rule.

Of course there are cases where people grow up proficient in two languages but usually, by adulthood, one has become superior and the other has become sub.

Cassiebsg

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Re: Translations
« Reply #2 on: 13 Jul 2018, 08:31 »
I agree that if you are using "Google translate" to rely on a translation you have already lost the war... :-X
And even if you are very good at a foreign language, having someone that is native in the language you want the game in, proofread the text is a must!

I still don't get, and never will, how people seems to think that putting a sentence in their language and hit "translate" on a button will give them a good usable translation. :-\ Sure, it's fine if you are translating from a language you do not know to your own. After all you just want the meaning of the sentence, not the exact words (and even then it may give mixed results depending on what is being translated)... But then you can ROFL at it... (laugh)
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Snarky

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Re: Translations
« Reply #3 on: 13 Jul 2018, 08:55 »
I'm sure everyone agrees that these are best practices, but just to take the opposite perspective for a moment:

I am currently playing a game with a woeful english translation.

See? You are playing the game. The translation may be woeful, but it allows you to play a game that otherwise would presumably be inaccessible to you.

For most AGS games, the whole production is an exercise in doing stuff you may not be proficient in, whether that's programming, art, writing, puzzle design, UI design, music, or dozens of other skills that some people devote their whole career to. People muddle through the best they can – assisted, at best, by whatever help they can round up. Why should translation, or writing in a language not your own, be any different?

What I definitely think you could "demand", though, is that the quality of the translation should get as much attention as any of these other elements. It's when a game is polished in every other respect but saddled with a bad translation (or just poor proofreading) that I start to think someone took their eye off the ball.

Re: Translations
« Reply #4 on: 13 Jul 2018, 11:12 »
I'm afraid English has drawn the short straw. It's rapidly going the way Latin has gone in the mediaeval ages: Everyone is speaking and writing it to make themselves understood, claiming to be proficient in it no matter whether they are or are not. At best, they use the grammar and idioms of their mother tongue with English words. At worst, they speak a muddled, brutal, bloated dialect called "Companese" that doesn't even adhere to foreign idioms: It _sounds_ English, but no Brit or American would speak it that way. Some say that the Germans in particular are spearheading these "efforts". The end result is that the language as a whole loses massively.

Our lowly adventure games are just joining the huge bandwagon after the song texts and advertising slogans. The argument is always the same: Well, we _might_ do this in <insert language here>, but if we do this in English, our audience will be much larger for the same effort, so let's do this in English from the get-go. We all know English, don't we?

Creamy

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Re: Translations
« Reply #5 on: 13 Jul 2018, 11:17 »
Quote
Quote
My hypothesis is that it's better to get the end language translator to speak it from birth, and to have learned the second language later, rather than the reverse.

Yes, this is the way professional translation is done all over the world. It's a pretty unbreakable rule.
(nod)

Yet, I agree with Snarky. Many games here wouldn’t be available if the authors didn’t make the effort to translate them from their own language to English in the first place.

Also it’s not easy for a non-native speaker to judge the quality of his/her own translation.
How about telling the author about it and offering to proofread?
« Last Edit: 13 Jul 2018, 11:39 by Creamy »
 

Wiggy

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Re: Translations
« Reply #6 on: 13 Jul 2018, 12:01 »
I agree with, and yet disagree with Creamy and Snarky. The reason? There is a recruitment forum right here! People offer their services for free! If I wanted this post translated into any language at all, I could at least ask - that doesn't take much, surely! If you have gone to the effort of making a game with great graphics, animations, plot and witty bi-lines, why ruin it with a crap translation such as "Of cook I know of what my mother I saw."??? Yes, I am playing the game, but only at the behest of another AGS-er who wanted help in the Hints and Tips column.

The thing that hurts is that the game could be far better than it is, with bugger-all effort.

Mandle

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Re: Translations
« Reply #7 on: 13 Jul 2018, 13:47 »
Quote
Quote
My hypothesis is that it's better to get the end language translator to speak it from birth, and to have learned the second language later, rather than the reverse.

Yes, this is the way professional translation is done all over the world. It's a pretty unbreakable rule.
(nod)

Yet, I agree with Snarky. Many games here wouldn’t be available if the authors didn’t make the effort to translate them from their own language to English in the first place.

Also it’s not easy for a non-native speaker to judge the quality of his/her own translation.
How about telling the author about it and offering to proofread?

I was really just talking about commercial products. If freeware games have wonky translations then yeah, you get what you pay for...

Wiggy

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Re: Translations
« Reply #8 on: 13 Jul 2018, 16:00 »
No Mandle, I strongly disagree. There are people who make these wonderful games for fun, I could name them but I won't. You have seen their art, tested their games even. My point is that if english is your second language and you need help in translation, then simply ask. All will be provided freely. Don't let your work be wasted!

tzachs

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Re: Translations
« Reply #9 on: 13 Jul 2018, 16:08 »
I still don't get, and never will, how people seems to think that putting a sentence in their language and hit "translate" on a button will give them a good usable translation. :-\
Eventually I suspect that hitting a "translate" on a button will give a perfectly good usable translation, maybe even in the next decade (the technology will just get better and better until it's good enough, and then it will get better and better still).

The end result is that the language as a whole loses massively.
Why?
Language is a means to an end: it's a protocol to convey information, and if it evolves to allow conveying information between more people across the world then that's a good thing. This reminds me of this quote from Samuel Rogers:
"The now fashionable pronunciation of several words is to me at least very offensive: Contemplate is bad enough; but Balcony makes me sick"
From this great talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/anne_curzan_what_makes_a_word_real

My point is that if english is your second language and you need help in translation, then simply ask.
I agree.

Cassiebsg

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Re: Translations
« Reply #10 on: 13 Jul 2018, 16:15 »
I think it makes it worse, that the author was charging money for the game not too long ago. And now I see some complaints about bugs (game breaking?) and bad/awful translation.

PS. @Wiggy. The author of the game is active (at least on his completed game thread)... so why not just ask him to participate in the hints & tips thread? Cause at the moment it doesn't seem like he's even aware of the its existence...

@tzachs, we're not there yet. ;) And I doubt that it will ever be perfect. In many languages you have several words that write the same, but have different meanings, and unless the AI doing the translations can read the entire text to figure out which word to translate to and how. We won't be there. Maybe in 100 years (?) we will be there... maybe 50y? maybe a 1000? You have no idea how many ROFLs I have had thanks to ppl putting a sentence into Google Translate and then copy/pasting it to me, pretending they wrote it. (laugh) (roll)
« Last Edit: 13 Jul 2018, 16:17 by Cassiebsg »
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Mandle

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Re: Translations
« Reply #11 on: 13 Jul 2018, 17:44 »
No Mandle, I strongly disagree. There are people who make these wonderful games for fun, I could name them but I won't. You have seen their art, tested their games even. My point is that if english is your second language and you need help in translation, then simply ask. All will be provided freely. Don't let your work be wasted!

I'm not really sure why I'm being strongly disagreed with here.

I was talking about professional translation meaning paid translation.

The thing that hurts is that the game could be far better than it is, with bugger-all effort.

Yeah, the first time I took on a game project for translation checking was Donald Dowell. I also thought it would be bugger-all effort!

Just clean up every line in the game so that it made sense, right?

I sent my "cleaned up" version in and replayed the game with it installed.

It made bugger-all sense.

I quickly learned that, to make a decent translation, or a perfect translation (which is what my goal always is but still eludes me by fractions), the translator must play the game over and over and over to establish the context of every single freaking line in the game and then rewrite them all and then replay the game again and again.

Context is the KEY in doing a translation and with AGS games it's MUCH harder than translating a book or movie as everything is non-linear and the translation file doesn't tell you where every single line shows up in the game.

You can ask the author, but mostly they don't remember exactly themself where a specific line occurs in the story.

So, you play the game over and over again until either you find it or give up, assuming that it was a junk line that was eventually not included in the game. And this has also stung me in the butt later when watching Youtube playthroughs.

And then you have the issues where the author used the same line, which made sense in their language, for several instances in the script but there is no way to have them all have the same meaning in your language. So, it's either rewrite the entire game, or come up with some kind of fix that makes sense in every case.

I must have played Tales at least 70 times through from start to finish until I was confident enough with the translation to sign off on the publisher paying real money for actors to perform the lines, and even then I had to rewrite many sections of the translation for where they messed up a line which took several more weeks of replaying.

I probably played Chronicle Of Innsmouth through at least 50 times even before it had voice acting to make sure every line was in context and then, after voice acting, had to go back and recheck everything many times and rewrite every slight flub on the part of the actors.

Anyway, the game you are talking about probably isn't voice-acted. I only added those comments to express an extra level of how difficult a translation can be.

But it is certainly not "bugger-all" effort... It is dozens, or even hundreds, of hours of effort depending on the length of the game.
« Last Edit: 13 Jul 2018, 17:52 by Mandle »

Sinitrena

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Re: Translations
« Reply #12 on: 13 Jul 2018, 18:32 »
I completely agree with Mandle.

The main problem when translating is context. Without it, it is simply impossible to know what a sentence is supposed to mean. And when it comes to context, the AGS translation file is (used to be? It's a while since I had anything to do with it.) a mess. You get every line that needs translating but that is all. You can't tell who said it, when or why. And so, even a simple sentence can become nonsense in a translation.

Another problem is, that yes, ideally, you translate into your mother tongue, never into your second language. That's because passive (meaning: understanding) knowledge of a language is easier to achieve than active (speaking, using). But who offers their services for translation around here? Mostly people who have english as their second language. So it is fairly easy to get someone to translate your game from english into their langauge but the other way around? How many anglish native speakers do we have here, who speak russian or protoguese (just as examples)? Yes,  there are also many people availaible who could proofread your (not so perfect) english translation, but then you are missing the context again, even if the proofreader plays the game over and over again 

Crimson Wizard

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Re: Translations
« Reply #13 on: 13 Jul 2018, 18:36 »
Quote
Context is the KEY in doing a translation and with AGS games it's MUCH harder than translating a book or movie as everything is non-linear and the translation file doesn't tell you where every single line shows up in the game.

I remember translating Ben Chandler's Awakener to Russian language, and later replaying my own translation I found that it does not work in some places, because certain lines do not fit character's personality or match the style they talk in original language. That was a minor thing, but few lines stood out enough to make me cringe.

Wiggy

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Re: Translations
« Reply #14 on: 14 Jul 2018, 07:32 »
You've all made some very good points and I agree with all. The woefulness of this translation is that some sentences make no sense whatsoever! I realise that it's not easy, I realise it's about context, and I see that the translator has to play the game to ensure that the right idiom and even the correct tense is used. Monty Python fans will remember the sketch called "The naughty Hungarian phrasebook". This game's hovercraft is full of eels!

p.s. for Cassiebsg, apparently the dev is away till September. Astounding game though. I will offer to him a clean up of the English, because more people should look at his work.

Re: Translations
« Reply #15 on: 14 Jul 2018, 08:00 »
Maybe a rewrite of the way AGS exports translation files is in order?

We could have something similar to the way a script file works, for example:

Code: Adventure Game Studio
  1. //Action: Pick up object "oBlueCup"
  2. cEgo: It's a blue cup!
  3.  
  4. cEgo: I'll pick it up.
  5.  
  6. cOtherChar: Don't break it!
  7.  

Snarky

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Re: Translations
« Reply #16 on: 14 Jul 2018, 08:09 »
I want to point out that the Speech Center plugin allows you to output the dialog in pretty much exactly this format. I think translators should always be given the script in this form along with the translation file. (Ideally the plugin should be made open source and integrated as a core part of the editor.)